Discipline

A few additional points on the last post:

*It’s a little bit strange that Diefenbach would object to politics intruding on life given one of the more famous descriptions Deleuze and Guattari, who she otherwise follows so closely (and reads so well), give of minor:

[E]verything in [minor literature] is political.[…]; its cramped space forces each individual to connect immediately to politics. The individual concern thus becomes all the more necessary, indispensible, magnified, because a whole other story is vibrating within it.

The space that minor formations inhabit is already and always traversed by politics. Individuals in minor positions don’t have access to autonomous realms such as “life” that are distinct from the political. While individuals in major positions have their relations with politics mediated by family, marriage, jobs, etc., minor relations are immediately political; whereas the former makes the decision to enter politics, the latter’s every expression resonates with political content.

*In addition to seeing a reason for the failure of minor politics in its seeping into “life,” Diefenbach locates a more pernicious presence:

In the developments after 1968, […] it had become clear, furthermore, that there had been a dangerous merging of the minoritarian and the cadre model into whose discipline very different historical developments had gained entry. […] This merging of minoritarian politics with discipline led to […] enormous pressure to achieve, which drove many militants away from the political.

The kind of discipline Diefenbach has in mind here is the ’60s variety: no longer necessarily attached to the party, leery of hierarchies and exclusions, and attentive to horizontal decision-making and to difference — in short, a rejection of the outward trappings of liberal and Leninist political organization, but no less respectful of its core tenets: fealty to a (or should I say the) political ideal, a requirement of direct action (and for the strict separation of action from thought), and a demand that the individual sacrifice for the higher unity. In other words, the kind of discipline that Zizek has recently called for.

The problem this poses for a minor politics is that discipline, like the party, is always transcendent: It is not generated by political practice but is an external principle that measures and indexes the actions of the actors. Conceived in the Zizekian way, discipline is something that politics must come to, a prerequisite and a ground on which political action must be based. But if minor politics means anything — if embracing the cramped conditions of minor spaces is desirable — it means that the practice of politics produces its own judgments, its own criteria for judgment. A minoritarian politics that holds to discipline as a value or a strategy submits itself to an ideal and a mode of operating that preexists the political moment and is confined by that ideal.

*Diefenbach proposes a new way of thinking about organizations:

[T]he point is not to abandon the strategy of the minoritarian; it is a question rather of debating its dangers […] and of posing anew the question of organizing, something that has been neglected with the rejection of the party form in radical left movements, important though this rejection may be. After the break with the party, organizations ought to be seen not as organs of leadership and mediation or in the confrontation between spontaneity and the directive, between mass and leadership. It should be the other way round: the forces of cooperation should be acknowledged in organization, which bring clashes and conflict with them as much as relief from the burden of constant self-mobilization and the distance between the political act and the self.

Organization, then, is quite different from discipline. If discipline is prospective, then organization is retrospective. If discipline demands how and under which forms the act should take place, organization, or thinking about organization, takes place after the event and does not require adherence to ideals or try to subsume difference or demand sacrifice.

*I think this all relates in some way to another interesting essay by Diefenbach, about Hardt and Negri’s multitude and messianism and Benjamin’s messianic, but I’m too tired to type about that now.

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